Independent spending has shifted into high gear during the closing weeks of the 2014 midterm congressional elections. Non-party organizations have spent nearly twice as much as formal party committees in reportable independent spending as of thirteen days before Election Day. This repeats the party/non-party balance of 2012, the first full election cycle after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.
Though the totals have not changed much since 2012, the balance between House and Senate has shifted markedly. Roughly half of the money that non-party organizations spent on House races in 2012 has now moved toward the Senate. And among Senate Republicans, non-party committees so far have spent nearly five times as much as the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).
American Crossroads and the allied Crossroads GPS stand out among non-party groups in 2014 general election expenditures. In addition to spending the most among non-party organizations, the Crossroads organizations by themselves have surpassed the NRSC in general election independent spending. On the other side of the aisle, it should be noted that the Senate Majority PAC’s primary election spending was almost entirely the functional equivalent of general election spending.
While the non-party organizations have spent more than the parties so far, the parties should be expected to close the gap at least partly during the campaign’s closing days. Over the past seven days, the party committees were four of the top five spenders. In addition, it should be remembered that parties may be able to buy more than non-party groups with the same amount of money, since the parties typically reserve their advertising time earlier.